Holidays, hotels and travel: what to do if everything goes wrong

5 min read
June 08, 2023

Whether it’s a luxurious vacation or a bargain break, we all want our holidays to be as hassle-free as possible.

Unfortunately, time away does not always go as smoothly as we’d wish. Travel disruptions like flight or train delays, or bad accommodation and poor service can all conspire to put a dampener on your holiday experience.

This week, we’ve taken a look at ways you can get some redress when a holiday goes wrong.


If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you may be entitled to compensation – depending on the circumstances. Flight delay compensation is calculated by how much later you arrive than was originally scheduled. You may also wish to seek reimbursement for other costs you incur due to a delay or cancellation, like accommodation or airport transfers.

What qualifies for compensation?

• Any flight delayed by more than 3 hours that has a UK or European departure and arrival airport.
• International flights longer than 3500km departing from UK/Europe that are delayed in reaching their destination by more than three hours.
• International flights longer than 3500km with a UK-based or European airline arriving in UK/Europe that are delayed in reaching their destination by more than three hours.

Remember, you are only able to claim compensation if the delay was caused by something within the airline’s control.


Due to new EU regulations, ferry passengers who face travel disruption are now entitled to a refund in certain circumstances.

The ferry company is obliged to inform you of a cancellation within 30 minutes of the scheduled time of departure and to keep you informed of further arrangements. You should also expect to be given refreshments if you have to wait around.


• …you are only entitled to compensation for a ferry delay if it is not caused by weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.
• …to ensure you have adequate travel insurance that includes cancellation and curtailment cover in case an issue arises.
• … to monitor weather reports before your crossing and double-check for any cancellations so you don’t get stuck waiting at the port.
• … that if you cannot resolve your issue with a ferry company you can take your case to ABTA for an independent assessment


All train operating companies must adhere to the National Conditions of Carriage, so if your train is delayed for over an hour, you should be entitled to some compensation. Each company’s compensation levels are set out in their franchise agreements with the government. These are the minimum requirements placed upon a train operator, but some companies can be more generous than this.

Although the amount varies with each operator, the minimum you are entitled to is 20% of the ticket value (or 10% if a return ticket and only one leg is delayed). Some companies also offer compensation in the form of vouchers if your train is delayed by half an hour or more and it was their fault. Ask at the ticket office or use Resolver to inform the company within 28 days of your travel.

If your train is canceled or delayed and you decide not to travel, you are still entitled to a full refund. However, in the case of severe delays, there may be an agreement between the train operator and Network Rail that the operator was not to blame for the delays. In these cases, no compensation will be due.

If an issue cannot be resolved with the train company, you have the right to take your case for independent inspection. This is either Passenger Focus (which covers all of the UK outside of London), or London Travelwatch for journeys or issues within London.

When compensation is not payable for a train delay:

• Acts or threats of vandalism or terrorism
• Suicides or accidents involving trespassers
• Gas leaks or fires in lineside buildings not caused by a train company
• Line closures at the request of the police or emergency services
• Exceptionally severe weather conditions
• Industrial action
• Riots or civil commotion
• Fire, mechanical or electrical failure or a defect (except where caused by a train company or its trains’ defects)


If you booked your accommodation in the UK, then you have protection under the Supply of Services and Goods Act. This means the service they give and the quality of the room must be reasonable and services delivered with reasonable skill.

The key word here is ‘reasonable’. Reasonable is based on a number of factors, but the key one is what you paid for your room. The higher the star rating or the higher the room rate, the higher your expectation of quality should be.

How to assess and pursue problems with accommodation:

If it’s not ‘as described’

A hotel should have the facilities that they describe in their marketing materials. So if they say they have a swimming pool then they should. If it is not available during your stay, then you have a justified reason to raise an issue.

Keep a record

If you experience an issue then remember to collate as much information as possible. Your smartphone is a great way to do this; take photos or videos at the time of the issue as well as any receipts or records of money you had to spend.

If it goes unresolved

If you cannot resolve an issue while you are staying at a hotel, then you should raise the issue within 28 days of returning home. When you email the hotel through Resolver, try to attach as much supporting information as possible such as your invoice and any photos of the problem.

If you booked through a travel agent/website

If you booked your accommodation through a travel agent or website, you should still raise your issue with the hotel directly. They do need to ensure the information provided is accurate.

If you feel the issue was caused by the website’s or travel agent’s mis-booking then you should raise the issue with them and not the hotel. Where the travel agent is a member of ABTA, if your issue goes unresolved you will be able escalate the issue to them.

If you paid by credit card

If you paid by credit card, even if it was only the deposit, and spent more than £100 then you can make a claim against your credit card company. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the Credit Card company is jointly liable and you can make a claim from them.


Got an issue with your holiday travel? Raise a complaint via Resolver now

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